Sunday, June 25, 2017

Seasons out of kilter.

Everything in the garden seems early this year,
1st of the Raspberries. 8th June.
I'm sure we have never had raspberries ready at the beginning of June, redcurrants and blackcurrants are also ready for picking, the exception seems to be the strawberries which I'm sure were a month later than normal. We've even had our first courgettes. The vegetable garden is producing an abundance, probally due to the very hot weather that we have had. We have now however had some rain, nothing like normal but enough to keep the garden looking good and to keep the slugs happy, the main damage has been to the carrots, Simon has now sown two lots of carrots, only to have them raised to the ground overnight as soon as they have appeared. We have always been reluctant to use nematodes, it has always seemed odd to us to introduce an alien species to the garden, however after speaking to people who have used them we are now conceding defeat and I have ordered them. Last year we lost over 75% of our potatoes due to slugs and ended up having to buy sacks of potatoes from our Organic meat supplier, we know that he also does carrots as he offered us some last year, but nothing can beat a freshly pulled carrot, so a third planting will be done and the soil watered with the nematodes. I have also been given a sack of wool shoddy so this can be used around susceptible plants. Maybe I shouldn't speak too soon but there are two plants which normally suffer slug damage, Lupins and Delphiniums, yet our slugs have left these plants completely alone.
Day old chicks.
We now have this years supply of chickens on the ground, bought three weeks ago as day olds they are now coming up for three weeks old, today was the day to introduce them to the outside world, they have had a great time pecking at grass, they will still have heat at night-time for the next week, then they will get moved to their big house and run where they will stay until they are ready for slaughter.
A selection of David Austin roses.
The roses have been fantastic this year, again probally due to the warmer weather that we have had,

I had forgotten how many different roses we have, most of them being David Austin roses,

so beautifully scented,
 the poppies
and dianthus are looking great,
and we now have Turks cap lilies flowering. We had forgotten where these had been planted so it was a lovely surprise to find them in full bloom, the perfume from them is lovely.
Arum lilies struggling under a clematis.
We had a trip out exploring the local lanes looking for a wild flower that we had not seen for years, Mountain Everlasting, it comes in two colours, pink and white,
Female Mountain everlasting.
the pink ones are the female plants
Male flowers.
and the white are the male plants. After having been told where to see them we went in search , since then we keep seeing them everywhere, maybe I'm not as observant as I used to be.

Last projects.
The pottery classes have slowed down a bit as my teacher does a lot of Viking re-enactments during the summer months so it's working out to one Friday in three at the moment, this week there is a class but unfortunately I will be in hospital  for the day having a Coronary Angiogram which I'm not looking forward to. My last three peices worked out fine, I'm not too sure what my next project will be, it needs a little thought.
Love this Clematis.
A medley of colour.
Albertine, always reliable.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Being outstriped by nature.

Nature takes over if you don't keep it in check, just being in  hospital for  four day and nature took advantage, Simon was coming to see me every day which was a four hour round trip, not leaving much time to do all that he does on a daily basis, never mind additional work, and  last week was spent getting my new regime organised so Simon had far less time to spend in the garden. Thistles and nettles have tried to do a takeover bid, and the soft fruit bushes didn't get  checked for unwanted bugs.
One of the so far unaffected bushes.
We had never had gooseberry sawfly before, but we have it now,
Gooseberry sawfly has been busy.
 three bushes  have been striped completely of their leaves, two had been started on and there are  three that the sawfly hadn't got round to. Simon has hand picked and squashed over two hundred caterpillars' today, and we will try the rhubarb leaf treatment on Wednesday, we can't do it tomorrow as we have to pick up this years table bird chicks. Although we have close friends who are wanting chickens from us again this year we have decided that as I'm now rather out of action we will only be doing them for ourselves. Selling finished birds did pay for our own birds, but there is a fair amount of work involved with growing them and especially processing  them.
The flower garden is looking great now,
the Delphiniums are all in flower, yellow Iris and my favourite,
the black Iris are flowering,
the Hostas are just starting
 and at last the Arum lilies are flowering.
One of the Clematis that we planted four years ago has at last rewarded us with a flower, it only the second time that it has flowered, maybe I have neglected it, I'm never sure about pruning Clematis. One way that we get new plants is by cuttings, most of our Dianthus have been grown from cuttings and several of our roses, old derelict cottages often have lovely old fashioned roses scrambling in their hedges.
This rose was grown from a cutting taken two years ago come August, it's now six foot high and full of flowers.
Roses are very easy to take cuttings from and in under two years you will have them flowering.
Spotted in our lane is a web covering a willow bush, the leaves have been striped and the caterpillars have vacated the web, it would seem that it was the web of the ermine moth, it's not something that we had seen before.
The weather is still warm but the very hot spell has gone, we have also had some much needed rain.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Aughris Head, Sligo.

Two of the Bens.
Sunday was a beautiful summers day, (unheard of in Ireland)and the fact that it's still May is unbelievable, we have had temperatures of 26c, anyone would think we were on the Iberian peninsula. We headed out across the Ox mountains, with no real destination in mind, but as usual, we ended up on the Sligo coast.
We watched as a small fishing boat went about it's business, seagulls following it, maybe they were waiting for a catch.
We drove round the coast road and ended up at Aughris Head where there is a lovely olde worldy thatched pub.
Last time we were there the kitchens were closed for renovations but they have been completed and you can now get a great meal or snack there.
A good helping of mussels  and a glass of Sligo craft beer.
 I opted for a big bowl of mussels, with garlic bread, they also had a Sligo craft beer on tap. It's great that so many places have jumped on the band wagon of craft beers, we've not had one yet that we haven't liked.
The humble Hawthorn, so beautiful when you look closely.
Water Avens.
The season is completely out of kilter,
I've never seen it so early.
we have seen wild honeysuckle,
dog roses,
and yellow flag irises all in flower, at least one month early, in the case of fuchsia two months early. We have also spotted blackberries in bloom.
All of our roses are now in full bloom
and several of our clematis are also flowering,
and also our blue Solanum , it looks lovely against a golden briar.
We have had the first of our courgettes and the mange tout peas, Sweet peas have already got flower buds on them, they are at least two months early. Tomatoes are also flowering, it looks set to be a good year.
Cattle enjoying a sea view. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Five Star Treatment.

Laburnum in full bloom.
Last Monday I had to go into hospital for a sleep study, no one likes hospitals they normally seems so alien from normal life, however, Merlin Park hospital in Galway is an exception. Proper disabled ramps and staff that rush to give assistance, whatever procedure you are about to have is explained in detail. Maximum of three patients to a room and of course on-suite facilities, plus TV in every room. Nothing was too much bother for the staff. Although this hospital is quite old, everything is spotless.
However, what had not been explained to me was that I might end up staying more than one night, so it came as a bit of a shock at 8am to be awoken by a very nice Dr. saying he had to take an arterial blood test as the readings that they had from the sleep study showed I had very low oxygen levels. Anyone who has ever had one of these blood test taken is not likely to forget it, it's a very painful procedure. The results meant I had a prolonged stay, until home oxygen had been installed, it also meant I ended up having five of these painful blood tests which leave your wrist black and blue for some considerable time. Still, after four days in hospital and everything ready for me at home I was allowed to go home.
Our  red hawthorn, looking beautiful

Just four days away and it was unbelievable how many things had come into bloom in the garden,

it is a riot of colour,
once again the Amaryllis is flowering, that's the third time this year, and there are lots of good things to eat from the garden.
The peaches are filling out nicely,
there are plenty of new potatoes,
and it wont be long before the first courgettes are ready,
the second cauliflowers are far better than the earlier ones,
Mangetout  peas

we have at last had a little rain. The  tomatoes are showing flowers
and we are eating broad beans picked as mangetout, no waste at all that way.
Euphorbia, at Strokestown House.
The day before my hospital visit we went to Strokestown House plant sale,
there were far fewer stall holders there this year,
Rhododendron, it looks lovely against the copper beech.
no doubt put off by the seventy euro charge to have a stall, visitors also have to pay five euros to attend the sale but this cost includes a fee for visiting the gardens, fine if you are not in a wheelchair, all the pathways are gravel and not wheelchair friendly, so I had to let Simon visit the gardens and take some photos for me,
it was looking nice, but our garden probally has more colour so I will settle for seeing our own garden and seeing new things appearing daily.
One of our few yellow roses.
Foxgloves looking majestic.
Pink Lupin.
Deep blue iris.
Not a day lily, I have lost the label.
Lovely shape to this rose.
Double Campion.
I now know that exciting visits are now no longer possible for me as I'm on 16hours oxygen a day, and having to use a wheel chair most of the time rather limits us, but trips to the coast and other beauty spots are possible with the mobile oxygen, we are hoping for a day out tomorrow but to where has yet to be decided.
Lots of Aquilegia.
Another Aquilegia.
And another.
One of my favourites.
Love this new blue Lupin.
Our first Delphinium in flower.